Apple to Amazon: This Means War

| Particle Debris

Those of us are who are into Perl have heard it said that Perl is a write-only language. You can write it, but you can’t read it. To a certain extent, for beginners, that may be true. In fact this next article points out that “Perl, a major programming language used by untold zillions of developers, is no more intuitive to novices than a language with a randomly generated syntax.” Of course, that’s the point. Perl is exactly not a programming language for beginners and probably shouldn’t be used to teach programming.

Obfuscated Perl

But the article brings up a larger point, namely that language parsers were developed in the days when the CPU was running at a few megahertz. Could a more modern language benefit from a parser that has, say, a few hundred gigaflops at its disposal? Food for thought: “Why Aren’t Computer Programming Languages Designed Better?

Falling memory prices is always good for us, right? Right? Maybe not. “Falling memory prices may bring irritating, intrusive devices.

For a long time, various writers, (including me) have been suggesting that Apple get a firmer grip on its Internet delivery mechanism before it branches out into textbooks, TV and now, Siri. So when I see another company doing just that, it gives me pause. “Dish blasts out high-speed satellite broadband.” All the people in rural areas, stuck with the prospects if HughesNet, will rejoice.

While it’s true that Android fragmentation causes certain problems, one problem that is solves is that, at any given time, there’s a new Android phone being released. That gives the platform a chance to jump on new technologies more quickly than Apple can. “Visa certifies more smartphones for NFC payments.” Guess who isn’t on the list.

Here is more proof, via Alice in Wonderland, that traditional book publishers have yet to grok ebooks. “The major publishers have completely abdicated responsibility for producing the digital versions of their catalogues: it’s all handed over to amateurs. You see it throughout the industry. From the typographical horror of most eBooks, through to the lacklustre iPad titles being produced. The big problem is that most publishers don’t care about the iPad or eBooks very much, whether this is an aesthetic rejection based on the publisher’s historical reverence for the printed page, or a reflection of the relatively small profits to be made on the iPad so far, it’s hard to know.” This is good stuff; read more: “Chris Stevens on Alice for the iPad, Book Apps, and Toronto: a Q&A.

Alice in Wonderland

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t get it either. We knew that, but the underlying reasoning is the key here. The old world print publishers are working with the no longer valid principle of content scarcity to create value. It doesn’t work on the Internet. Mathew Ingram explains why.

Now that Ted Landau and I have jumped on the 7-inch iPad bandwagon, I am happy to report that our good friend, Erica Sadun has, at least, warmed up to the idea. Namely, she’d like one but still doesn’t think Apple will do it. Don’t worry, she’ll come around. “On the idea of a 7-inch Apple iPad.”

Companies have learned how to pass costs onto others, even their customers. Instead of a coupon, printed and mailed, Barnes & Noble sends you an e-mail with a bar code. You print it, at your expense, time, printer, ink and paper. Employers, as well, are so tired of buying and supporting thousands of smartphones that the staff doesn’t even want. They want iPhones. So, why not kill two birds with one stone? Pass the cost onto the employee. “Want a job? BYOD or Buh-bye.” This is a back door enterprise sales process that often gets overlooked.

The following is one of those “homework assignment” articles. It’s long, far too long for an informal Internet article. But the payoff is that it’s a virtual treatise on the business prospects for Apple in 2012. If you are an investor or just want to get more educated on Apple as a business, check: “Apple: Gearing Up To Go ‘Thermonuclear’ In 2012?

I’m singling this one out because of the author. Steven Levy wrote a great book about Google, In the Plex, and so he’s in an authoritative position to make some astute observations about Google and Google+. “Is Too Much Plus a Minus for Google?” By the way, Hitler doesn’t think much of Search Plus Your World either. (BTW, meet Danny Sullivan.)

We often hear about how Apple has “XX dollars in cash.” But how is that wealth distributed? How much sheer cash does Apple have, in nickels and dimes, and how much is in investments? Here’s the lowdown. “Getting Apple’s Cash Right And Why It’s Important.

I’ve written several times that the Amazon Kindle Fire is essentially a declaration of war against Apple and the iPad. Apple will have to fight back. For, as they say, more color on this, see Mike Elgan’s excellent: “Apple’s War On Amazon Starts Thursday.

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Alice artwork:  Wikimedia Commons

Comments

mhikl

Late, John, has its consequences. Coffee tastes bitter and chores had to be done as there’s a lady in the house who was empowered over the weekend as, according to what was thought a clever prenup (verbal, but still legal), a certain party is excused from household weekend chores only until it (PD) has been completed.

skipaq

Thanks, John. This was one of the most useful “Debris” articles to date. The articles on Apple in 2012 and the “War” with Amazon were tops. They have clarified my thinking on some points of importance as an investor and customer.

wab95

John:

While I continue to have mixed feelings about the 7” iPad, and tend towards the They don’t need it in order to win the war camp, I concur with Mike Elgan’s analysis of ‘Apple’s War on Amazon…’. In particular, I think he hits the nail squarely in describing the two kinds of books, and that the second type - those that are publishing house independent are going to become the dominant type, and that Apple want to own that sector - is the crux of the issue.

Again, I go back to the point that Apple have been playing a long game and continue to do so, this particular battle being no exception. That the majority of authors and artists are Mac users, and that Apple provide tools for this sector, gives Apple a serious long term strategic advantage to progressively and relentlessly squeeze Amazon out over time. All they need is a catalyst, which may well be unleashed on Thursday.

While I hear and appreciate the arguments for the 7” iPad, and acknowledge the soundness of the reasoning you, Ted and others have put forward, and even acknowledge that it may happen (won’t surprise me either way), I maintain that such a device is non-essential in order for Apple to beat Amazon in the consumer space - i.e. content consumption. New product rollouts with price reduction of older models, coupled with a long term strategy such as outlined above make it unnecessary, and therefore an inefficient exercise, something uncharacteristic of Apple. They will win or with or without it. Perhaps its release will hasten the process, but will it be cost effective? I doubt it.

The ‘Thermonuclear’ piece hits all the right points, particularly that Siri is a much underestimated secret weapon. Its next iteration, along with the iPhone 5, will be formidable. The question is, how do people really use their phones and which of the smart phone features are most important to their practical use. Apple, given growth rates and hardware marketshare, appear to have a better bead on this than their competition.

MacFrogger

Yesterday I did what I thought I would never ever do: I changed my default search engine to Bing!

Bada bing, bada boom!  (The boom was applied to Google)

WetcoastBob

Liked the “cash right” article.  Hope their long-term includes investments in India, China and Russia as they will soon be leading economic engines.

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